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Chapter Four


TO understand the Chinese ideal of life one must try to under-
stand Chinese humanism. The term "humanism" is am-
biguous. Chinese humanism, however, has a very definite
meaning. It implies, first a just conception of the ends of
human life; secondly, a complete devotion to these ends; and
thirdly, the attainment of these ends by the spirit of human
reasonableness or the Doctrine of the Golden Mean, which
may also be called the Religion of Common Sense.

The question of the meaning of life has perplexed Western
philosophers, and it has never been solved—naturally, when
one starts out from the teleological point of view, according
to which all things, including mosquitoes and typhoid germs,
are created for the good of this cocksure humanity. As there
is usually too much pain and misery in this life to allow a
perfect answer to satisfy man's pride, teleology is therefore
carried over to the next life, and this earthly life is then looked
upon as a preparation for the life hereafter, in conformity
with the logic of Socrates, which looked upon a ferocious wife
as a natural provision for the training of the husband's character.
This way of dodging the horns of the dilemma sometimes
gives peace of mind for a moment, but then the eternal question,
"What is the meaning of life?" comes back. Others, like
Nietzsche, take the bull by the horns, and refuse to assume
that life must have a mining and believe that progress is in
a circle, and human achievements are a savage dance, instead
of a trip to the market. But still the question comes back
eternally, like the sea-waves lapping upon the shore: "What
is the meaning of life?"

The Chinese humanists believe they have found the true